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If boogeymen in masks aren't how you like to experience the pleasure of being scared, how about The International, a vaguely-titled movie about a vaguely-explained global, all-powerful conspiracy that involves money, guns, cover-ups and the inability to stop them? Clive Owen as an Interpol agent does his best to save us all from the evil bankers; he knows how to brood, wield a gun, and grow a 5 o'clock shadow you want to lick all night -- this alone makes the movie worth two hours of time for most of us. Naomi Watts isn't hard on the eyes either, though she's mostly an accessory to Owen: a platonic colleague who does the requisite admonishing, scolding, then ultimately assisting.
I know, I know, its a ripped-from-headlines political issue movie, but as a whole, it's less Constant Gardener or Syriana and more sweeps-week Alias two-parter (which is a good thing). Sometimes during international conspiracy movies I feel like a kid listening to grown-ups discuss macroeconomic models, but The International plays closer to an old-fashioned action film than the trailer indicates. Midway through the film, Clive leads us into the Guggenheim museum in NYC for a shooting conflict that is both brutal and gorgeous, so much so I forgot to keep breathing until it was finally over; unfortunately, the momentum isn't sustained.
For many serious based-on-real-life political dramas, endings often seem impractical or naive, and this film at least avoids any sort of fully happy resolution, with the exception of making sure Mr. Owen is left standing, completing the task of looking like a Serious Troublemaking Badass. So we can now move onto his next movie Duplicity, playing the Sexy Troublemaking Rogue. I'm not sure he can exist outside of either category, but until I get sick of seeing his face, there's no need to be too hard on his acting range.
-- A. RAYMOND JOHNSON
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